The teachers said, “We cannot make concessions on our rights. We have to fight for them.”
Rabat – Contractual teachers are continuing to strike across a number of Moroccan cities in protest of what they see as the government’s inability to work out viable solutions to the current dilemma of education. The government is now threatening to fire the teachers if they do not return to work.
After weeks of protests and sit-ins, contractual teachers are denouncing the government for not meeting their demands, following statements from Minister of Education Said Amzazi and Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi that the government would not abandon employment by contract.
The National Coalition for the Defense of Public Education called on political parties and activists to join a march on Sunday, March 24, to the Ministry of Education in Rabat.
The coalition announced in a statement that the march would denounce “the state’s fierce attack on public schools in an attempt to undermine public services and what is left of free education and give up its social responsibilities.”
Is the government ready to make concessions?
The government showed an indecisive attitude regarding the state of contractual teachers. On March 9, Amzazi announced that the Ministry of Education would abolish employment under fixed-term contract, giving contractual teachers similar benefits as those permanent teachers have.
After teachers refused the offer, El Khalfi said in a statement that the protests are “unjustifiable and seek to achieve political objectives.” He argued the protests “have nothing to do with their interest, but they aim to disrupt public utility.”
El Khalfi stressed that the government’s employment plan was strategic and that the framework Law 51-17 is irrevocable. The law implemented the government’s “2015-2030 strategic vision” to reform education. Protesting teachers are complaining about articles 45 and 48 of the law, which impose school fees at secondary schools and universities.
According to protesters, the articles seek to “undermine free public education” and are a “blow to the poor families.”
Despite the ministry’s first “concession” to give contractual teachers more benefits, the decision did not mean that the government would hire contractual teachers within the ministry but within regional academies instead.
Teachers saw this as a “patchy solution” and refused it altogether.
They said that as employees of regional academies, they would still be subject to the framework law of the private sector. At the heart of their demands is that they want to enjoy the benefits of working in the public sector.
Consensual agreement or coercion?
The education ministry issued what seems its last ultimatum, warning teachers to resume classes within a one-week period and threatened to fire them if they do not return to work.
Amzazi stated the government will not give up on the contract system and requested that teachers resume classes or run the risk of being made redundant.
As both teachers and government refuse to give in, teachers are considering extending their protests to one week and pushing for a “blank year” (annee blanche) of striking from work in defiance of the government’s warnings.
One teacher told Morocco World News, “We cannot make concessions on our rights. We have to fight for them.”
He added, “It’s our constitutional right to stage strike as long as the government refuses to open a dialogue with us and solve this issue together.”
What future for the education system?
Now that the government has taken a step backward and refused to make any “further concessions,” teachers are relentless in their demand for the government to relinquish contractual employment in education.
Early this week, police forces met protesting teachers in Morocco’s southern city of Dakhla with batons and used “excessive force” to bush them back, according to a Moroccan media outlet, injuring many and leaving some in critical conditions.
The government hired the contractual teachers to meet a shortage of teachers in public schools left by 70,000 teachers who retired.